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New tech gadgets enable us to teach better. By using GoPro cameras, Google Glass and the Lightboard, Mr Fun Man FUNG from the National University of Singapore (NUS) transformed his Chemistry course into an exciting blended learning experience. As an enthusiastic instructor and a member at the Institute for Application of Learning Science and Educational Technology (ALSET) at NUS, Fun Man constantly experiments with different educational technology. He shared his successful pedagogies in a seminar entitled “Inspiring and Innovating with Technology-Enabled Blending Learning Experience (TEBLE)” on January 25, 2018.

Filming instructor’s point of view (IPOV) videos using GoPro cameras

One key component of Fun Man’s flipped Chemistry Course is his self-produced lab-instructional videos. These videos demonstrate laboratory experiments step-by-step, and are filmed by the instructor himself using GoPro cameras – one strapped on his chest and another on his forehead. IPOV means first person point of view – You will only see the instructor’s hands, but not the person, on screen. As you watch these videos, you will go through the steps as if you did the experiment yourself. Fun Man borrowed this filming idea from first person perspective video games, and this filming perspective has been proven to be facilitative in learning by research (Green and Bavelier, 2006).

A demo video produced by Fun Man.

IPOV videos are also more realistic and engaging, compared to third person point-of-view videos where the instructor is filmed by a cameraman. Before switching to IPOV videos, Fun Man had a cameraman film him demonstrating laboratory experiments . The videos were staged and scripted, hence less authentic and relatable. The process of filming was also challenging – as the cameraman did not have a background in Chemistry, he did not know what to focus on while filming, and Fun Man had to go through an extra hurdle of giving him filming instructions. It is more straightforward and efficient for Fun Man to film the demonstration himself using GoPro. Thanks to this IPOV technique, the instructional videos became livelier and more authentic. They also served as a useful resource for students to refer to for after-class revision.

The videos were well-received by students. The table below summarizes students’ feedback – all students agreed that the videos improved their confidence and skills in conducting experiments.

Students’ Perception on GoPro Lab

Questions Disagree very much Disagree Agree Agree very much
I find the GoPro video on experimentals enhanced my learning. 0 0 8 (38%) 13 (62%)
I am eager to try the experiments after watching the videos. 0 0 11 (52%) 10 (48%)
I would have preferred to enter the laboratory without watching any video demonstrations. 14 (67%) 7 (33%) 0 0
The GoPro videos improves my confidence in conducting the experiments on the actual day. 0 0 11 (52%) 10 (48%)
The GoPro videos improves my ability to operate the instruments and machine in the actual lab. 0 0 11 (52%) 10 (48%)
Overall, GoPro lab teaching is more effective than direct instructions from the lab manual. 0 1 (5%) 9 (43%) 11 (52%)

A few tips from Fun Man when using GoPro:

  1. The major challenge of using GoPro is movement and camera shake. Some footage may be blurred as a result, or the camera focus may not be what you intended. To minimize camera shake, you need to move very slowly during filming and have a sense of physical awareness. You may also need to spend more time editing your footage.
  2. Footages filmed by cameras mounted on different parts of the body are good for different purposes – “GoPro mounted on forehead gives better capture for lab demonstration,” but the view is shakier. “GoPro mounted on chest is excellent for tutorial capture,” except in a dim classroom.
  3. One limitation of GoPro is that it is mainly designed for outdoor filming. So the quality of indoor footages may not be as satisfactory as outdoor ones.

Live-streaming IPOV video using Google Glass

In addition to GoPro, Fun Man also uses Google Glass to conduct live demonstrations in class. The aim is to offer consistent teaching to all students within the same lab group.

Live-streaming IPOV videos using Google Glass.

Google Glass. (Image credit: Mr Fung Fun Man)

Conducting live demonstrations facilitate learning by:

  1. Allowing all students to observe the demonstration setup clearly, without being blocked by taller classmates. This also enables more students to observe in case of large classes, as students at the outer edge of a large huddle may experience difficulty in seeing the demonstration clearly.
  2. Addressing students’ common questions and offering early support to all of them: In the lab sessions, students work in groups and Fun Man walks around to respond to their questions. It is not uncommon for multiple groups to have the same questions. While the teacher is willing to respond to individual groups repeatedly, he can at most interact with one group at a time. The last group Fun Man attended to will obtain help way later than their peers. By live-streaming through Google Glass, students’ common questions can be addressed at the same time.
  3. Stimulating students to think about previously unconsidered points and/or raise more questions. This creates a constructive platform for both students and teachers to build knowledge upon each other’s ideas.
  4. Raising students’ confidence and interest while working.

Having discovered the usefulness of Google Glass, Fun Man further suggests that it could be explored in real-time teaching for distance learning curricula.

Producing DIY videos using Lightboard

Apart from pre-lab videos, Fun Man also produced talking head videos for his flipped class using Lightboard. Lightboard allows teachers to write down notes and diagrams on a glass board before them, while maintaining natural eye contact with the audience. Fun Man believes that this is a dynamic and engaging way to convey knowledge. It is also a very convenient way to produce videos as there is no need for post-video processing. All you need to do is to simply teach in front of the camera and upload the recording.

The only minor problem with Lightboard is an inversion of your hand gesture since the video is a mirror image. For example, when you explain a clockwise movement with your hand movement, it will appear as anti-clockwise in the video.

Despite this minor drawback, Lightboard videos were popular among students in the 2016/17 cohort and “resulted in a significant improvement in overall student performance”, compared to students in the 2015/16 cohort who did not learnt through Lightboard videos, comments Fun Man. Students who learnt using Lightboard videos achieved higher Average Grade Point. More students managed to reach A-grade standards, and fewer failed. They also commented more positively on the module and teacher effectiveness than their peers in the previous cohort.

AY15/16(Without Lightboard videos) AY16/17(With Lightboard videos)
Enrolment size 641 456
Average Grade Point 3.51 (sd=1.1) 3.85 (sd=0.86)
Students in Band 1 (A+/A/A-) 26.05% 29.17%
Failures (D+/D/F) 7.96% 2.85%
Overall opinion of the Module 3.586 (response rate = 76%) 3.8 (response rate = 90%)
Overall effectiveness of the teacher 4.225 4.3

Listening to Fun Man sharing his experience and practical tips in using various filming devices was very rewarding. We would like to express our gratitude to him for inspiring us to further explore the ways to enrich students’ blended learning experience with technology.

If you are interested in using technology in class, or simply want to try using GoPro or new gadgets, contact us.

Further reading

  1. Learn more about Fun Man’s work from his Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
  2. If you are eager to dig deeper into how he uses GoPro, Google Glass and the Lightboard, check out his publications below:
    • Fung, F. M. (2015). Using first-person perspective filming techniques for a Chemistry laboratory demonstration to facilitate a flipped pre-lab. J. Chem. Educ., 92 (9), 1518-1521. [Link]
    • Fung, F. M. (2016). Explore technology-enhanced learning using Google Glass to offer students a unique instructor’s point of view live laboratory demonstration. J. Chem. Educ., 93 (12), 2117-2122. [Link]
    • Fung, F. M. (2017). Adopting Lightboard for a Chemistry flipped classroom to improve technology-enhanced videos for better learner engagement. J. Chem. Educ., 94 (7), pp. 956-959. [Link]
  3. Dr. Rachel Lui, Faculty of Science, also uses the Lightboard in teaching Mathematics. Check out her example here.

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